No matter which of the major three airports you've arrived to, there are three main ways for you in each case to get from the airport to the city of Moscow: by car (taxi), express train and public transport.
Let's see which one you should prefer in what case. Then follow one of the links at the bottom of this article to the pages describing each mode in detail.
First of all, getting anywhere by public transport for you as a foreign tourist is supposed to be the last option only if you're in a really desperate situation or happen to be a very, very adventurous person. It's mentioned here just in case, and also because it's an actual option that exists.
The real choice for you to make is between a taxi and an express train.
1) Train brings you to the city in shortest possible time guaranteed without any delays or traffic jams. But it doesn't bring you right to the hotel doors. So you'll have you additionally use the metro or a taxi to get exactly where you need from the train terminal in the city center. Which, if you have a lot of luggage, can be quite painful.
2) A taxi takes care of all your luggage and brings you right to the point you need, but is veeery prone to stuck in a traffic jam along the way lengthening the time you're risking to spend on your trip to the city up to 2-2,5 hours in worst cases. As well as there's almost a 95% chance of significantly overpaying if you don't order it through an app.
There are two scenarios where no choice should even be on the table for you. One, when you have to get to the city ASAP without taking even a slightest chance of delay - then you take a train, and that's it. Two, is when you happen to have a strong, life-long conviction that trains are for peasants, and it doesn't matter to you how long the trip will take. Then you absolutely certainly should take a good car.
If none of the above is the case, and you're just looking for the quickest, least cumbersome and cheapest way, then you have to consider a couple factors to make the decision: traffic situation, number of people you have with you, the amount of luggage you all are carrying and how far is your hotel from the stain station on the other end.
General rules for road traffic in Moscow is that it is much better on weekends than on weekdays. And that you should avoid driving anywhere on weekdays between 6-9 AM and 6-9 PM. However, it can be absolutely unpredictable. Roads get routinely closed to government officials and visiting foreign representatives. Special events such as special street fares, marathons and concerts have a chance of shutting down entire chunks of the city. And road works and road accidents are quite ubiquitous.
So even if the time seems fine, still do two more things to be sure you're not going to get stuck.
Google the date of your arrival with the word Moscow next to it as in, '15th of June 2019 Moscow' or '15th of June 2019 Moscow events'. If you don't see any articles on the first page of Google about anything special happening in the city that day, you're good to go.
Also, download and open this app - Yandex Maps. Download links for iOS and for Android. This is the most used navigation app in Russia that shows real-time traffic situation (you'll see your taxi driver using it with 90% chance). Or even better, just check its browser version here.
First, you can just see the general rating from 1 to 10 of how bad traffic is, 1-3 - is all good. If you see something like this:
or like this:
- avoid taking a car.
And second, you can just type the address of your hotel, and it'll tell you the quickest possible travel time taking into account all the current traffic jams along the way if there's no way to avoid them.
If all that is fine, then consider the next criteria.
Now, if you're doing everything right and don't order a taxi through 'official' airport services or by hailing it on the street, then the normal price of a regular-sized car to the city is supposed to be between 900 and 1200 rubles.
The only way the train is cheaper in this situation is when you're travelling alone. In any other case it is very close today (after trains introduced special group rates recently).
1 car for 1-4 people - 900-1200 RUB.
1 train ticket for 1 person - 500 RUB; for 2 - 850 RUB; for 4 - 950 RUB.
If you have excessive luggage that's clearly not going to fit in a regular car, you can consider taking a minivan instead for about 2500 RUB. Trains don't have any restriction as to how much luggage you're allowed to board, and they have special, convenient luggage sections for it. But if you choose the train you'll have to think about how do you carry all those bags to the hotel from the train station, which brings us to the last criteria.
How far is your hotel from the end train station in the city?
It's an important question. Because there are many nice hotel within a walking distance to each of the three stations that you can possibly arrive to. And if you happen to stay in one of them, and you're travelling alone; than the train option should be a no-brainer for you.
On the other hand, if the hotel is relatively far from there, and you're not sure about using the metro on your own on the first day, you'd rather consider a car option in this case.
Each train station in the city has a metro stop right next to it. And there will be a detailed article in this blog in the near future about how to use the metro on your own.
Use the same Yandex Maps app or its browser version to check the location of your hotel and the end station of the train. The names of train terminals that the trains arrive to from each airport are as follows:
Sheremetyevo - your express train will arrive to Belorusskaya Train Terminal
Domodedovo - to Paveletskaya Train Terminal
Vnukovo - to Kievskaya Train Terminal
So, a few factors to keep in mind to make the right decision. But I hope this article would give you enough information to make the right choice.
Then if you think that you've decided and know for sure which one are you going to take, click the following links for more detailed tips on how to use each of the options most efficiently and without getting ripped off.